Sooner or later, somebody in your company will ask you to build a company profile. Where to start ? This article will outline the steps in building a good customer profile and the questions you should ask yourself:
What is this profile for? What should be included? What format is most appropriate? What sources can I use? What do I do next ?
First, you need to understand why the profile is needed. Too often, one builds a company profile that then stays in your files and that none ever looks at.
First question you should ask when asked for a profile is: “What decision needs to be made that will require this profile?”
Two cases can happen:
First, no immediate decision needs to be made, the profile is just for “reference”. In this case, run away and try as best as you can to postpone building the profile. This is exactly the case where the profile is likely to sit in the files, will take a lot of time to be built, and then even more time to get updated, but is actually not serving a real purpose.
A clear decision can be found where the profile will be needed, and then you have indications as to the type of profile you need.
What should be included ?
Profiles can take various shapes and forms depending on the decision that needs to be made.
These are a few examples of the elements to include in a company profile based on the type of decision that needs to be made:
To help senior management prepare for a field trip
- Last news about the company (useful for chatting as an introduction)
- Profile of the people who will be met
- Key information about the company visited
- History of relations with your company (speak to customer service also)
To investigate the opportunity to acquire a company
- Summary of activities and split by product and region
- Financial information
- List of customers
- Strengths and weaknesses assessment
- Estimate of company value based on previous offers and own analysis
To build awareness internally about a competitor
- Description of activities
- Business system
- Bidding policies
To understand opportunity for partnership
- Markets by product and region
- Profile of key management and background
- Historic behavior of management
- Example of existing partnerships
- Analysis of synergies or overlaps
To assess viability of a supplier
- Credit rating
- Profile of key people and background
- Historic of relation with customers
- Product benchmarking
Once you have defined the elements you want to include, be very specific about the level of detail of the information needed. For example;
- If you are showing financial numbers, how many years back do you want to go?
- If you are using market size numbers, what currency will you use?
A few tips: every time you can, add insight:
- “What does it mean for our company” section
- Cheat: if you need general financial numbers or rations, use ratios that might already be calculated in your sources of information, you’ll save time
- Benchmark: compare information about the company with your own company, or with industry average
What format is most appropriate?
One principle: have an executive summary or an index, and add the background information or back-up separately.
Be creative when you decide which format to use for your profile. it does not have to be a paper document. These are some of the formats that are mostly used:
Paper or text document using Word with hyperlinks to sites on the Internet
By creating a company profile and considering the different scenarios your business profile could be utilized will help to position your company positively in the eyes of those interested in your business and services.